Until recently, automation has been people-powered: hard-coded by programmers into business processes that they define. Today, however, automation is reaching new heights, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities enabling greater machine autonomy.
One of the most significant things about this new era of automation is that it goes beyond efficiency: it has the power to create new business models.
New Business Models
A great example is Singapore’s CCTV network. Before AI came along, a team of five employees were tasked with watching Singapore’s 35,000 cameras to try and spot unusual activity. This was an impossible task with the cameras providing too much information for five people to process. Today, an AI-enabled system uses algorithms to spot abnormal activity and to filter information to human employees, who then decide on the best course of action—whether to call the police or fire services, for example.
Singapore has reimagined what can be done with technology, and this is the approach all businesses must take. Those that can be creative and use AI to build new business models will be most successful.
At Accenture, we’re supporting businesses ready to make this leap with our London-based Liquid Studio. In our Liquid Studio, we bring together all our global assets and immerse clients in technology that will help them create new futures for their organisations. The Studio is staffed by our best experts, who help clients work through the different opportunities AI can offer them. We believe the Liquid Studio, along with similar initiatives, will be a catalyst to the uptake of modern automation.
The ethics of AI
However, as businesses plot their paths to automation, it’s important they consider the ethical implications of the technology. With such a transformational technology, new challenges are going to arise, and these need to be mitigated.
For example, who in the business should take responsibility for the actions of a robot? Is it the coders who create the algorithm, or is it the robot itself? Or think about the way a driverless car is programmed to act in an accident. If a collision is unavoidable between another car, a pedestrian and a cyclist, who should the algorithm favour?
The ethical considerations of AI run deep and many haven’t been addressed adequately; but in my opinion, it’s essential they are before businesses come to rely on the technology. I also think in some cases it’ll be essential that industry receives support and clear guidance from lawmakers on how to proceed.
Intelligent Automation is fast becoming essential for businesses. It’ll quickly emerge as the main enabler for business differentiation and efficiency; in the process making business more natural than ever for customers and employees. But before you start on your AI transformation, you must plan effectively. Think about where it can be used in your business and what the ethical implications of doing so are. For every business, there’s a perfect AI solution; it’s just a matter of finding the one that delivers the most value.